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Friday, December 21, 2012

"Christmas at the White House" by Jennifer B. Pickens

Christmas at the White House beautifully documents the lavish public and private Christmas decorations, celebrations, themes, and traditions spanning half of a century inside the world's most famous address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With a foreword written by former First Lady Laura Bush, this singular book has earned the devotion of six of the most recent United States First Ladies, all of whom penned introductions to their sections. In the book, you can read what Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush have to say about how they celebrated Christmas inside America's most special home. Illustrated with more than five hundred exquisite photographs, most of which have never been viewed by the public before, the 408-page book is the first documented and published history of fifty years and nine different administrations beginning in the early 1960s with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who initiated formal Christmas themes at the White House.

Published by:  Fife & Drum Press
Pages:  408
Genre:  Non-fiction/House and Garden


This is a beautiful pictoral of Christmas decorating and family gatherings behind the holidays at the White House during the office years of the Kennedy's to the Bush families. Gorgeous and ornate, the trees and other decorative features created at the House for the different eras are not only in keeping with the times, but are reflective of the personalities of the First Ladies.

I found this book entertaining for hours. It wasn't only the pictures that held me enthrall, but the themes themselves and why each First Lady chose the themes. Reflecting the times and their own connection with them, I thought it was psychologically important and important in terms of what our country was experiencing at the time. Contributions to the main tree from people all over the country made each era particularly special to me.

There's so much to comment on in this book, but just to choose one of the most impressive decorations that's a classic of the White House, let me talk about the Neopolitan creche that goes in the East Wing every holiday. Originally, the amazing creche was set up by Jackie Kennedy. It was a gorgeous example of 18c. Naples, Italy, artistry with figures mostly 15 to 20 inches tall. The arrangement was and remains mostly pyramid-shaped within an evergreen base reaching nearly 6 ft. tall. There are huge angels on top. The original was on loan and was eventually donated to a museum; however, in 1967 it was replaced as a gift from the Engelhard family and continues to be a highlight of the holiday decorations. It is simply the most stunning thing I've ever seen! What a blessing to have this spiritual representation in our country's house.

From family trees, to rafter-sized fruit laden garlands, pinatas to mistletoe and holly arrangements, the halls and arches of the White House are adorned throughout the Christmas season. Shockingly beautiful...rich and effusive... The colors alone are fantastic in profusion.

This is a gorgeous book for holiday giving, and one you'll spend hours pouring over if you own it. It's one to set on your cocktail table for friends and family to enjoy over the Christmas days as you entertain. Perfect complement to the holidays!!

5 shining stars Deborah/TheBookishDame


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